The Sound of Rain

Al Ain RainThe screech of tyres wake me up. I feel groggy with sleep. Then I hear it: the unmistakable deep rumble of thunder. I jump out of bed, eyes struggling to focus, and fling the windows wide open. Every raindrop that falls in the desert is a celebration. Big, fat drops tumble down to a thirsty earth. The sky is a beautiful lead grey. I breathe in air that is almost cool.

Al Ain only gets on average 100mm of rain every year, and when it happens, the locals are out in full force, driving around like little boys in their ‘souped-up’ cars. The roads become slippery streams of water, as an efficient drainage system that would elsewhere quickly whisk away rushing water, has not been built here. It is the perfect playground. Tyres screech as a roundabout becomes a merry-go-round. Engines in which the spark has been cut every fourth cycle and doubles the amount of unburnt fuel, create a rapid backfire, filling up car bonnets with the exploding sound of firecrackers on a New Year’s Eve. It is loud and jubilant. “Crazy”, I mumble, still a bit sleepy and unappreciative of all the noise that cut through the gentle patter of rain.

The rain comes as a special gift, a mere three days after I had to reluctantly concede that summer has arrived. It is giving me a brief moment of respite to, once more, have the windows wide open for an hour or two. I feel rebellious. I want summer to stay away for just a little bit longer, but I have to accept that there are no more cool night breezes. I am confronted with 35°C at night, and daytime temperatures that giddily skips into the 40s. This means that for the next six months we’ll have the windows shut tight, and the aircon humming quietly in the background. But for now, this brief moment in time, I feel grateful for this fleeting, unexpected reprieve.